Liverpool have been warned that new defender Ozan Kabak might not be the answer to their problems as he is not as good as many people think.
The Reds finally relented and recruited defensive help after high-profile injuries to the rearguard this season. Virgil van Dijk will miss the majority of the campaign while Joe Gomez is another long-term injury victim.
Of the two, Kabak is likely to see more action, having played 55 Bundesliga games despite his tender age. Having started his career at Galatasaray, the moved to Stuttgart in January 2019.
The centre-back then joined Schalke six months later despite having a contract with Stuttgart until 2024. The Turkey international made 42 appearances in all competitions for Die Konigsblauen.
He arrived at Anfield to much fanfare after signing on loan for £1m with an option to buy for a further £18m. But, according to Kicker, via Sports Witness, the Merseyside giants may have been duped into signing the youngster.
While he was once linked with Bayern Munich, the German publication suggests he has ‘fallen far short of his expectations’. And they have given him a woeful rating of 4.75 for his displays this season.
That is using the German schooling system for grading, where one is the best and six is worst. Four is said to be ‘passable but still lacking’, while five is ‘deficient’.
That is hardly a glowing report and one that could sound the alarm bells at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp will doubtless pay little attention. The German tactician will be confident of developing the young talent into a world-class defender.
Title defence floundering
It may be that the defensive cavalry has arrived too late this term. Wednesday’s home defeat to Brighton sees the champions in fourth and seven points adrift of table-topping Manchester City.
Having gone unbeaten at home for so long, they have now suffered back-to-back Anfield losses. Burnley also turned them over on their own patch and it will take a monumental effort to retain the title.
Although Liverpool will never give up, thoughts are bound to turn to next season domestically. Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip should be back and it remains to be seen if Kabak gets much game time.
He may become another club legend to defy the critics but the negative report heaps further pressure on the Turk.
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